A Lot of Love in a Little Box: Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child ~ How to Pack a Shoe Box ~ By Bubblegum Sass

Each year we pack up several shoe boxes to donate to Operation Christmas Child. We started this tradition well before Sammy was born, knowing how much these gifts would be appreciated by a child in a developing country. Now as a mother, these shoe boxes have come to mean a whole lot more. They are HOPE. Hope for a child, for his siblings, for his friends, and community. One shoe box isn’t just Christmas gifts for a single child, for a single year. It is LOVE in box that has the potential to spread from one child, to a whole community.

I’ve posted about our volunteer experiences at the sorting facility and shared our ideas for packing a shoe box over the years. Today I just wanted to put together an updated list, keeping in mind the idea that these boxes can benefit a community, starting with a single child.

Ages 2-4

  • Washcloths
  • Bars of soap
  • Combs/hairbrushes
  • Toothbrush
  • Big chunky crayons
  • Colouring book/notepad/coloured construction paper
  • Board books/picture books/picture Bible
  • Puzzles, toy cars or trains
  • Re-usable shopping bags
  • Stickers
  • Hard candies**
  • Photo of you/postcard/letter
  • Stuffed animal or doll*

Ages 5-9

  • Wash cloths
  • Bars of soap
  • Combs/hairbrushes
  • Toothbrush
  • Crayons
  • Pencil crayons
  • Pencils
  • Sharpener & erasers
  • Stickers
  • Notebooks
  • Picture Bible
  • Small musical instruments (harmonica, whistle, etc.)
  • Hair ties and accessories (for girls)
  • Compact multi-head screwdriver & screws (forĀ  boys)
  • good quality multi-tool (for boys)
  • Compact ball pump & deflated soccer ball (for boys)
  • Toy cars or trains
  • Re-usable shopping bags
  • Hard candies**
  • Photo of you/postcard/letter
  • Stuffed animal*

Ages 10-14

  • Wash cloths
  • Bars of soap
  • Combs/hairbrushes
  • Toothbrush
  • Pencil crayons
  • Pencils
  • Sharpener & erasers
  • Notebooks
  • Compact mini Bible
  • Stickers
  • Small musical instruments (harmonica, whistle, etc.)
  • Hair ties & accessories (for girls)
  • Compact multi-head screwdriver & screws (forĀ  boys)
  • Compact ball pump & deflated soccer ball (for boys)
  • good quality multi-tool (for boys)
  • feminine hygiene pads (for girls)
  • cooking accessories, including measuring cups & spoons (for girls)
  • Sewing Kits (A couple spools of thread, a hand sewing needle pack, small bag of colourful buttons, assortment of ribbon, grosgrain, webbing, small squares of fabric)
  • Re-usable shopping bags
  • Photo of you/postcard/letter
  • Hard candies**

A few tips:

  • Although it is a lovely thought to pack your shoe box into one of those reusable plastic bins, once you volunteer at the sorting facility you see the problem with them. They easily crack and break. Keep in mind these boxes have to travel through all sorts of weather & environments. I suggest you stick with a traditional cardboard shoe box (which they can still use reuse for a long time).
  • Don’t forget to pack things like soap and hard candies into plastic sandwich bags (one for soap, one for candies).
  • Don’t forget to include your $7 donation for shipping in each box OR donate online (which is what we do).

*We typically send a small stuffed animal along in each box no matter what the age of the child, but we recently read about the downside of sending one. Many countries have strong beliefs/myths linked to particular animals and since you don’t know where your box is going to end up, it’s tricky to know whether your actually sending something scary & very negative (instead of comforting) to your child. I’m just throwing it out there. You decide.

**Just found out that boxes being shipped from Canada are no longer allowed to have food or candy OF ANY KIND in them. These items will be removed at sorting facilities if found & donated to appropriate charities. The change comes because of difficulties with customs in receiving countries, which has resulted in such huge delays that sometimes entire shoe box shipments have to be redirected to another country. We don’t want kids to miss out on these shoe boxes, so skip the candy and fill that space with more school supplies or hygiene items, please.

Also, I know that national collection week is wrapping up quickly, but it’s not too late to get a shoe box packed. If you live in Calgary, you can always drop off your completed shoe boxes directly to the sorting facility/processing centre. We usually take ours the night we volunteer the first week of December. OR you can pack a shoe box online!

What things do you put in your shoe boxes? Leave your ideas in the comments below! We’re always thinking of something new each year, so it’s nice to hear what other people come up with. Happy packing!

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